Mental Health

How to rediscover meaning in your life

Srini Pillay, MD
Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor

People who feel their life have meaning are less depressed and recover from illness more quickly. But that feeling of meaning can slip away when life hands you lemons. One of the best ways to reconnect with that sense of significance might just be stepping away from your routine and embracing spontaneity.

When are self-help programs “helpful”?

Srini Pillay, MD
Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor

There is an explosion of books, tapes, podcasts, programs, and apps that claim to provide self-help. If you are considering any sort of self-help program, making the effort to evaluate its merits (underlying research, if any; reputation and qualifications of its source; whether or not the program is a good match for your needs) will increase the odds you find something appropriate and effective.

Let the sun shine: Mind your mental health this winter

Dominic Wu, MD
Dominic Wu, MD, Contributing Editor

There are several ways to tackle the changes in mood and energy levels that can arise as the days get the shorter and the weather more dreary. A form of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) affects many people during the winter months. It’s also important to take steps to mind your mental health during the winter months and to know when to seek the help of a medical professional.

5 ways to hold on to optimism — and reap health benefits

Beverly Merz
Beverly Merz, Executive Editor, Harvard Women's Health Watch

Despite many Americans feeling discouraged as 2016 ended, optimism abounds for the future. Such an attitude is not just a trait of those with a sunny disposition: Research indicates that optimism can positively impact both mental and physical health. If you find yourself with a more cynical mindset, there are methods that can improve your outlook on life. We offer five ways to help you see the world through rosier glasses.

What the 21st Century Cures Act means for behavioral health

Richard Frank, PhD
Richard Frank, PhD, Contributor

The 21st Century Cures Act, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Obama in December, provides or extends funding for a variety of health initiatives, including support for people with mental health and substance use issues. It builds on important innovations introduced in the Mental Health Parity and Addictions Equity Act and the Affordable Care Act.

The power and prevalence of loneliness

Charlotte S. Yeh, MD
Charlotte S. Yeh, MD, Chief Medical Officer, AARP Services, Inc., Guest Contributor

In addition to the emotional toll felt by millions of older people, loneliness affects brain function and physical health as well. The simple connection of regular contact with others provides support and helps alleviate isolation. Older people experiencing loneliness also miss simple everyday moments, such as sharing a meal, holding hands, taking country walks, or going on holiday.

The “thinking” benefits of doodling

Srini Pillay, MD
Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor

Remaining focused for extended periods of time is difficult, but researchers believe that doodling gives a break to parts of the brain, making it possible to absorb and retain more information overall. While this phenomenon is not well understood, neuroscience is starting to learn how doodling might help boost attention and and focus.

Understanding suicide in children and early adolescents may lead to more effective prevention

Ellen Braaten, Ph.D.
Ellen Braaten, Ph.D., Contributor

Though suicide in children and young adolescents is rare, it is still a far-too-frequent occurrence. It is also one that is increasing, particularly in black youth. There are differences in the characteristics and circumstances of children and adolescents who commit suicide. A better understanding of these could lead to more effective prevention programs.

Brain science suggests “mind wandering” can help manage anxiety

Srini Pillay, MD
Srini Pillay, MD, Contributor

The wandering mind can get stuck on negative thoughts and start to “react” to a perceived threat that feels very real–and makes you feel anxious. Naming the negative feeling associated with that thought and then helping your mind wander in a more positive direction can help.

Caring for those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

James Cartreine, PhD
James Cartreine, PhD, Contributing Editor

People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experience challenging physical and emotional problems. Those caring for loved ones affected by PTSD need to balance self-care, limits, and realistic expectations. While the symptoms of PTSD may never completely go away, there are effective treatments that can reduce the effects and improve the lives of sufferers and the ones who care for them.